John Varghese from Pennsylvania, US, was desperately trying to get in touch with his parents in Mharal, a village near Kalyan. Since the July 26 downpour in Maharashtra, all telecom links to this nook had broken down and there was no way of knowing if they were well. That was till John logged on to www.cloudburstmumbai.blogspot.com and www.mumbaihelp.blogspot.com. Within six hours of posting his concern on these portals, the Varghese family was traced and John was duly assured of their well-being. Hundreds of such hapless victims of the incessant rain benefited from the two blogs initiated by 39-year-old Peter Griffin.
A communication consultant and freelance journalist, Griffin’s idea was to collate all possible information to help disaster victims—weather forecasts, emergency numbers, contact details of rehab centres, hospitals, etc. Fellow bloggers also helped. "Now, we are planning to turn this into a permanent Mumbai Disaster Portal," says Griffin who wants to set up such sites for other cities, too. For Griffin, blogging is not just about writing self-obsessive, narcissistic diaries about love, lust and longing; it is about humanising a new technological fad. It is about overcoming a natural calamity by networking, about fostering a collective self-reliance in the face of a civic breakdown.